Indian Peaks Charter School needs home before new school is built
To the Editor:Thank you very much for your positive pitch toward Indian Peaks Charter School’s facilities campaign. We all appreciated the line, If you have ever visited the campus of Indian Peaks, you know that it is in dire need of physical improvement.As you recognize Indian Peaks makes the most of what it has and provides an educational niche to families with Kindergarten – Eighth Grade students in Grand County who desire a content rich program, five-day school week, small class size, and foreign language in all grades. What IPCS needs, prior to construction, is a permanent home. Facilities have been an ongoing concern since the charter school movement first began in the 1990s.An inability to locate affordable facilities delayed the school’s opening by nearly five years until the East Grand Educational Complex (former East Grand Middle School) was made available. With the demolition of that facility made possible through a bond passed in 2004, the IPCS Governing Board searched tirelessly for a new home. With a budget based on the increasing enrollment of 80+ students, IPCS was unable to afford a new site.Many possibilities were researched throughout East Grand County including sites in Winter Park, Fraser, Granby, and a building toward Grand Lake. East Grand Middle School kindly offered us two classroom spaces, but this was not enough space to support our program. Two deals in the Granby area were nearly brokered but fell through.In the Spring of 2005 a site was offered to us in Tabernash. This site did not include buildings, and IPCS requested a modular from the East Grand School District that this bond had provided classroom space to replace, and funds to purchase a second modular. The East Grand School Board did not like the idea of a district-owned building being placed on privately held land, and at this point offered the temporary use (1-3 years only) of the site we are currently on with a modular and $65,000 to purchase a second modular. The IPCS Governing Board thus continued to search for funds to purchase a permanent site. Without bond funds, the way East Grand School District has been able to expand their facilities, finding an affordable site has continued to be a major issue.An individual approached the Governing Board and offered to purchase a property to hold for the school. IPCS requested inclusion in the bond that just passed and initially EGS Board supported this. A disagreement regarding lawyer’s fees between the Pole Creek Valley Homeowner’s Association and the landowners caused a delay of a contract which the EGSB felt IPCS needed to allow IPCS inclusion in the recent bond.The IPCS Governing Board agreed to remove ourselves from the bond with the understanding that we would return after the bond passed to obtain the funds. The wording in the bond was changed to allow for this with the inclusion of terminology to purchase land. What does Tabernash have to offer IPCS? Primarily, it is a permanent site for IPCS. It is a location that IPCS will own itself and cannot be taken away from us. As we know from past experience, this is not the case when we are on a district-owned location.Second, as many families are aware, the area between Fraser and Granby is growing. Both Granby and Fraser Valley Elementary School are overcrowded, causing a need to transfer the fifth-grade students to East Grand Middle School.With the bond funds, Fraser Valley and Granby Elementary School will both be at three-track (three classes per grade). Our superintendent has stated in public meetings that three track is as large as an elementary school should go. Where would a future elementary school go? A Tabernash K-8 school is a convenient location for both these schools.Last year, the Granby Elementary School kindergarten had 51 students in it with two classes of 25 and 26. Our Kindergarten had four students. Despite advertising, and even a recommendation from the EGS Board former president that families wanting smaller class size look at IPCS, we still did not have any of those families approach us.This is not the case with the Fraser Valley. As we look at our student population, more and more students are in attendance from Fraser Valley. The particular increase is in our K-2 grades. When we look at pre-schools in the area, we note the growth of the pre-kindergarten programs in the Fraser Valley.Third, when we initially put out the Tabernash move, we had multiple families from that end of the valley contact us in interest. Tabernash does not have its own school, and IPCS could provide this for the area. Concerns that have been brought to my attention in moving to Tabernash are the following: distance from EGSD main hub, shared resources, transportation access of students to school sports teams, music programs, and Grand County libraries, and lunch program.Being near the EGSD main hub has not helped IPCS. Look at today. Our facilities have not been a pressing need to EGSD. Some Special Education staff (not EGSD staff, but NWBOCES employees) is shared by the all EGSD schools including IPCS, but these staff travel to all schools in EGSD including passing Tabernash on their way to Fraser Valley Elementary School.IPCS pays EGSD a portion of our state funding for administrative costs, but the EGSD staff’s primary concern is other district schools. Being in the EGSD hub does not provide a support for IPCS. IPCS students currently utilize the Grand County Online Resources on a regular basis.Attendance for many students in library programs is not possible due to transportation concerns. A move to Tabernash would open up these programs to students from the Fraser Valley in addition to those in the Granby area already enjoying library programming.IPCS in no way desires to alienate any East Grand student from attending IPCS based on transportation. A plan to transport students from Granby to IPCS between Dr. Rankin and IPCS was agreed upon last summer. Students from the outlying areas will ride their regular bus in and then transfer to the IPCS bus.Students will still be able to participate in after-school sports through EGMS and Rec District programs with the transportation plan mentioned earlier. It is our hopes that we re-instate our after-school sports teams and Fine Arts Academy with appropriate facilities.The final issue is Food Service. Our office manager started discussion with EGSD food service director regarding the drop off of food to our Tabernash site this fall in order to allow us to continue to provide the federally mandated Free & Reduced Lunch Program. We appreciate your support for our facilities needs. Indian Peaks Charter School needs a permanent site to place its facilities on.Please recognize the need to include a permanent location in this need and our board’s tiring efforts in finding a suitable and affordable location which can serve East Grand K-8 students.Polly GallagherIndian Peaks Charter School principal
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